New Delhi: For the third time, the Narendra Modi government has stopped the release of government data on jobs created in the country before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The Indian Express reported on March 14, 2019 that a survey by the Labour Bureau on the number of jobs created under the Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency (MUDRA) will not be made public for another two months.
The official reason cited are “errors” and “anomalies” in the methodology used for the jobs survey.
“The number of jobs created under the MUDRA scheme will be released after the polls as the Expert Committee found anomalies in the methodology used by the Bureau in arriving at the findings,” sources told the newspaper.
The MUDRA programme was launched in April 2015, and provides loans at low rates for people to set up small business and in order to generate jobs through self-employment. The loans are given to microfinance institutions and other non-banking financial institutions, which in turn lend to the MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises).
It was reported in February this year, that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance had scrapped the report on unemployment by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), and instead planned to use the Labour Bureau’s MUDRA survey on jobs.
However, the expert committee in a meeting on March 8, asked the Labour Bureau to “reconcile some errors” in the report, as per IE. The bureau has sought two more months to do so. The Union Labour Minister is yet to approve the committee’s decisions.
The NSSO survey that was withheld by the Modi government was the first employment survey to be conducted after demonetisation. The survey report was leaked to the Business Standard and showed that unemployment had reached a 45-year high at 6.1% in 2017-18.
After the employment data was withheld, two expert members of the National Statistical Commission had resigned in protest.
The other jobs survey withheld from release by the Modi government was the 6th annual employment-unemployment survey by the Labour Bureau, even though the Union labour minister had approved the survey report.
According to the survey, India’s unemployment rate in 2016-17 was the highest in four years at 3.9 per cent.
The MUDRA survey by the Labour Bureau has covered an estimated 97,000 Mudra beneficiaries who took loans between April 8, 2015 and January 1, 2019.
Given the findings of the two suppressed government reports as well as other recent job surveys, it is anybody’s guess that the MUDRA survey results would have told a similar story of job losses and joblessness — a risk that the Modi government would not take before the elections.
Also read: Modi’s Failures: Average Mudra Loan Is Just Rs.47,249
Last August, the Department of Financial Services had stated that around 90% of the loans fell in the lowest category of under Rs 50,000 — an amount too measly for any serious, even if small, entrepreneurial venture.
“Since the programme was started in 2015-16, a grand total of 9.9 crore loans have been sanctioned and a whopping Rs.4.68 lakh crore have been disbursed. These seem to be impressive figures. But this means that average loan per person is a meagre Rs.47,249!” as Newsclick had reported earlier.
During the survey period, MUDRA beneficiaries stood at 10.35 crore, which had now increased to 15.56 crore, sources told IE.
Sources told the newspaper that “the methodology included beneficiaries who had borrowed more than Rs 50,000 as entrepreneurs who had taken loan for business activity.”
“The Bureau supposes the surveyed accounts to include double or triple-time beneficiaries as well as spillover from 34.26 crore Jan Dhan account holders who were also being included by banks as Mudra beneficiaries; especially those accounts where an overdraft of Rs 5,000 was being provided by the bank,” said the news report.